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FHWA Home / Policy & Governmental Affairs / 2004 Conditions and Performance

Conditions and Performance

2004 Conditions and Performance: Chapter 3 (Summary)
Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2004 Conditions and Performance
Chapter 3 System Conditions
  • Summary
    • Highway Conditions
    • Bridge Conditions
    • Transit Conditions
  • Road Conditions
    • Pavement Terminology and Measurements
    • Overall Pavement Condition
    • Rural and Urban Pavement Conditions
    • Pavement Condition by Functional Classification
    • Roadway Alignment
    • Lane Width
  • Bridge System Conditions
    • Classification of Bridge Deficiencies
      • Condition Rating Structural Deficiencies
      • Structural Appraisal Ratings
      • Appraisal Rating Functional Obsolescence
      • Number of Deficient Bridges
      • Deficient Bridges by Owner
      • Deficient Bridges by Functional Classification
  • Transit System Conditions
    • Bus Conditions
    • Urban Bus Maintenance Facilities
      • Age
      • Condition
    • Rail Vehicle Conditions
    • Urban Rail Maintenance Facilities
      • Age
      • Condition
    • Other Rail Urban Infrastructure
    • The Value of U.S. Transit Assets
    • Rural Transit Vehicles and Facilities
    • Special Service Vehicles


Exhibit 3-1 highlights the key highway and transit statistics discussed in this chapter, and compares them with the values from the last report. The first data column contains the values reported in the 2002 C&P report, based on 2000. Data revisions are shown in the next column.

Exhibit 3-1 Comparison of System Conditions Statistics with Those in the 2002 C and P Report
    2000 Data  
Statistic Condition 2002 C&P
Revised as of
2002 Data
Total System PavementGood (% of miles)43.5%43.2%46.6%
 Acceptable (% of miles)86.0% 87.4%
Rural Interstate Pavement Good (% of miles)68.5% 71.9%
 Acceptable (% of miles)97.8% 97.8%
Small Urban Interstate Pavement Good (% of miles)61.6% 64.9%
 Acceptable (% of miles)95.8%95.7%95.3%
Urbanized Interstate Pavement Good (% of miles)48.2% 48.7%
 Acceptable (% of miles)93.0% 91.7%
National Highway System Pavement Good (% of miles)54.6%54.5%57.4%
 Acceptable (% of miles)93.5% 93.7%
Deficient Bridges 167,566  162,869
Deficient Bridges On Interstates 55,679 55,245
Deficient Bridges On Other Arterials 137,973 140,481
Average Urban Bus Vehicle Condition * 3.073.05 **3.19 **
Average Rail Vehicle Condition* 3.553.77 **3.72 **
Urban Bus Maintenance Facilities Excellent9% 7%
 Good8% 6%
 Adequate 54% 55%
Rail Maintenance Facilities Excellent0% 3%
 Good21% 41%
 Adequate 43% 43%
Rail Maintenance Yards Excellent0% 1%
 Good50% 31%
 Adequate 50% 48%
Rail Stations Excellent1%7%3%
 Good33% 22%
 Adequate 50%17%18%
Rail Track Excellent26% 40%
 Good45% 34%
 Adequate 12% 12%
* Average Condition. Conditions are rated on ranking of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).
** New Condition Classification System.

Highway Conditions

The pavement conditions reported in this chapter include all functional classifications except rural minor collectors and local roads. Pavement conditions are presented for three population groupings: rural (population less than 5,000), small urban (population 5,000 to 50,000), and urbanized (population greater than 50,000). The overall pavement conditions are presented based on the terminology used in the annual Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Performance Plan and other FHWA reports. Pavement is classified as having either "acceptable" or "not acceptable" ride quality; and, within the "acceptable" category, some pavement is classified as "good." These ratings are derived from one of two measures: International Roughness Index (IRI) or Present Serviceability Rating (PSR). The definitions for IRI and PSR, the relationship between them, and the ride quality ratings are discussed later in the chapter.

In 2002, 87.4 percent of measured road miles had acceptable ride quality, while 85.3 percent of the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) occurred on pavements in acceptable condition. Included within these figures are 46.6 percent of the miles of pavement that met the standard for good condition and 43.8 percent of the VMT that occurred on pavements in good condition. Since 2000, there has been an increase in the percentage of miles in the good category, as well as an increase in the percentage of VMT on pavements in good condition. There also has been an increase in the percentage of miles in acceptable condition, but a slight decrease in the percentage of VMT on pavements in acceptable condition. Pavement conditions on the Interstate System have varied since 2000. The percentage of miles of rural, small urban, and urbanized Interstates with acceptable ride quality decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 96.2 percent between 2000 and 2002, while the percentage of miles with good ride quality increased by 2.7 percentage points to 65.8 percent. The percentages based on VMT show changes in the same direction.

Bridge Conditions

The number of deficient bridges is the most common measure used to evaluate the condition of the Nation's bridges. This measure considers all bridges equivalently. Weighting bridges according to the average daily traffic incorporates traffic demands on the structure. Weighting bridges according to the total deck area includes the size of the structure in the analysis.

These metrics are used to evaluate structural deficiencies and functional obsolescence within the bridge network. Structural deficiencies result from deterioration of conditions and the reductions in load-carrying capacity appraisals. Functional obsolescence results from changing demands on the structure and includes appraisals on clearance adequacy, deck geometry, and alignment.

The number of deficient bridges on our highway system has been steadily declining. Since 1995, the percentage of deficient bridges decreased from 31.4 percent to 27.5 percent. Decreases have been seen on all other functional classes for all different owners. As demonstrated, the progress has occurred primarily due to reducing the percentage of structurally deficient bridges with little overall change in the percentage of functionally obsolete bridges.

Transit Conditions

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) estimates conditions for transit vehicles, maintenance facilities, yards, stations, track, structures, and power systems using the Transit Economic Requirements Model (TERM) data collected through the National Transit Database (NTD) and special engineering surveys of transit assets. Since the 2002 C&P Report, condition information for approximately 70 percent of the Nation's transit assets has been updated in TERM.

The estimated condition of transit vehicles improved between 2000 and 2002, and the average age of transit vehicles declined. On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), bus vehicles had an average condition of 3.19 in 2002, up from 3.05 in 2000. The improvement in bus vehicle condition reflects a decrease in the average age of the bus vehicle fleet from 6.8 years in 2000 to 6.2 years in 2002. The average condition of the rail fleet increased from 3.38 in 2000 to 3.47 in 2002. The average age of rail vehicles declined from 21.8 years in 2000 to 20.4 years in 2002. Average rail vehicle age and condition are heavily influenced by the average age and condition of heavy rail vehicles, which account for 60 percent of the U.S. fleet. The average condition of commuter rail vehicles has been lowered since the 2002 report, based on engineering surveys that found that commuter rail vehicles deteriorate more rapidly in earlier years than previously estimated.

The average condition of bus and rail maintenance facilities was higher in 2002 than in 2000; however, about one-third of all bus and one-fifth of all rail maintenance facilities are in unacceptable condition. In addition to reflecting actual condition changes, these estimates reflect updated data on asset conditions collected from transit agencies. The average condition of urban bus maintenance facilities (including facilities for vans and demand response vehicles) improved, increasing from 3.23 in 2002 to 3.34 in 2002. In 2002, 55 percent of urban bus maintenance facilities was in adequate condition, 6 percent was in good condition, and 7 percent was in excellent condition, for a combined total of 68 percent in adequate or better condition. The conditions of rail maintenance facilities increased from 3.20 in 2000 to 3.56 in 2002. Eighty percent of all rail maintenance facilities are estimated to be in adequate or better condition and 20 percent in poor or substandard condition. Data collected since the last edition of this report revealed that a much larger percentage of rail facilities than previously estimated was 10 years old or less. In contrast to facilities, the condition of vehicle storage yards has declined. In 2002, 32 percent of all storage yards was estimated to be in good or excellent condition, compared with 50 percent in 2002.

About 46 percent of the nonvehicle data collected from earlier transit asset studies has been updated since the last report. This information revealed that the condition of stations was much worse than previously estimated. The condition of rail stations declined from 3.44 in 2000 to 2.99 in 2002. Nonrail stations are, on average, in better condition than rail stations. From 2000 to 2002, the conditions of track, substations, structures and third rail improved. The conditions of rail yards, overhead wire and stations declined. Changes in the condition of power systems are mixed, depending on the particular asset type. In 2002, power systems were, on average, estimated to be in good condition. These changes in conditions also reflect updated asset information.

Page last modified on November 7, 2014
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